ISSUE 145 | February 23, 2022
The Institute is an economic research and applied research and consulting group that provides customized client solutions and strategies to facilitate decision making and planning that enhances growth, impact, and sustainability for organizations.
From Around the Region and the State
Economic and Policy News
Pittsburgh implements plan to reduce pollution from city lights 
Pittsburgh is becoming a dark sky city in an effort to boost energy efficiency and minimize light pollution.

The transition will involve new low-wattage LED bulbs, as well as shades in public areas.

Furthermore, a Chester County Senator reached out to the city for information in hopes of introducing statewide legislation. 

Utility bills on the rise in PA, despite lower costs
The Pittsburgh Post –Gazette prepared a short article on the components of Pennsylvania energy bills.

It explains why customer, distribution, taxes, and other charges are beyond consumption.

The article also explores the economic impact of the Commonwealth’s natural gas exports. 

Philadelphia’s Rack’em Up competition spurs winning design
The city’s parking authority sought designs that would increase and improve bicycle parking.

The winning design moved parking to the street – and in front of fire hydrants in order to eliminate illegal parking.

The bike racks, developed by industrial design students from Thomas Jefferson University, also include solar-powered cover and motion-sensitive security.

From Around the Nation and the Globe
Economic and Policy News
Public policy underway to improve birthing outcomes
Eight states have passed laws to improve birthing outcomes – particularly in rural areas suffering from closure of healthcare facilities.

Such facilities had struggled with workforce and funding shortages prior to the pandemic, and these issues have since intensified.

Legislation addresses expanded Medicaid and insurance coverage for midwifery and doulas, along with the addition of more pathways for midwifery licensing and doula participation at births.

Public health depends on complete and reliable data 
COVID-19 illuminated the degree to which biased and unreliable data hinder progress.

For decades, low prioritization and decreased funding have interfered with public health activity, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has made recommendations to mitigate these negative impacts.

Suggestions include:

·        Better collection and organization of meaningful public health data,
·        Policies that ensure transparent and accessible exchange of public health information, and
·        Investment in remediation of structural inequities that undermine community well-being.

Public banks offer potential to enhance overall equity 
The world of banking can be intimidating for those who are unfamiliar with it, such as individuals who reside in underserved areas.

State banks could act as user-friendly alternatives while guiding investment into community-building efforts, as in small businesses and affordable housing.

North Dakota is currently the only state with such a bank, but 13 other states are considering legislation and some cities already have public banks in place.  

Research Spotlight!
The Institute's latest Policy Tracker has recently explored the possibility of a national infrastructure bank, as well as potential improvements to health and data-sharing efforts. Access these briefs now!
Research Institutions
Relaying Relevant News & Research to Local Stakeholders